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Kiran Bahl

Greetings to all and Happy Independence Day to India! As we celebrate this beautiful month of freedom and unity, let's also embrace the ever-rising Florida heat and focus on light, airy clothing, still meant to sparkle and shine for any event, true pattaka (firecracker) style! Let's also commemorate this very-much admired and needed publication's five-year stand in our community. Happy anniversary, Khaas Baat.

Before we get into the latest colors and materials, know this: THE most important fashion staple this season for casual wear is to rid of a usually important accessory - the dupatta. Runway audiences were shocked and appalled as major designers began displaying their everyday salwar kameezes, pantsuits and churidaars sans dupattas. When questioned about this, they responded with the theory that today's woman is more independent, more modern, and busier than ever. A dupatta, now a hindrance, has moved from becoming an essential part to an outfit to a mere, optional accessory. The necessity for it has completely faded, if not vanished!

Unbelievable as it sounds, woman all over from TV and movies to pageants have embraced the idea, and now, suits from georgettes to cotton have deleted the dupatta from their equations.

The heat, of course, is still rising, especially in the South. Light colors are beginning to prevail, even in formal lenghas and saris. Whites, creams and beiges are topping the lists. Still in demand and gorgeous than ever are the beautiful vintage-look saris, complete with red and green colorings, gold foil and embossing, and thick pallu borders, complete with brocade detailing; very elegant! Formal, even wedding reception-wear, surprises us as well, the popular color choices being pinks, oranges and bright blues. A dust pink, crepe sari lined with glittery, silver sequins can fire up any event, as well as a turquoise, chiffon lengha beaded with gold kundan work. It's all about the play of colors combined with simple, yet contrasting patterns.

Let's now focus on jewelry. Bangles have taken a backseat. For now, one simple kada on one hand and just a few bangles on the other defines today's look. Today's kadas are being modeled after olden times, like its sari counterparts, with antique gold work, meena red and green detail and the infamous screw clasp. Multi-colored bangles, too, have become less popular. Gold/silver colors mixed with a solid shade, have become the only tones to wear. Jewelry sets, of course, match or contrast the outfit, but what color do you wear when wearing mostly neutral shades? Like the kadas, pendant and chain sets are fiercely coming back, making them match with any outfit!

Gentleman, contrary to women's wear, menswear consists of different, vivid colors, such as maroon, navy blue and cocoa brown. Cotton and linen blends are still the prevailing fabric, something men have absolutely nothing to complain about. Also, a simple kurta pajama in a bolder color actually "formalizes" it, dressing it up for almost any occasion!

Send us your fashion questions and concerns. Follow the trend! E-mail us at, and we'll answer any and all your fashion dilemmas! Here's this month's Fashion Drama Question of the month:

Q: I lost my choli, which matches my lengha set. What can I use to make my lengha still wearable? Help! - Seema, Wesley Chapel

A: Seema, good news. Your lengha is still completely wearable. A problem like this usually occurs in the sari department, which mostly results in stitching a whole new blouse. A new blouse may be stitched in this case, too, but here's a better idea! Instead of trying to find fabric the same material and color as your lengha, give your seamstress the dupatta of the outfit. It could possibly be used to make a cute choli, or a design on the dupatta could be used to make borders to ornate a simple, solid colored choli. Yet another alternative involves finding a contrasting sari blouse or choli from another lengha set to match up. With all patterns and styles in this season, you're sure to find something to complement your outfit, perfectly matching or better yet, perfectly contrasting - this may better the outfit than before!

Once again, let's make this Independence Day for our country festive and full of love and smiles. Always enjoy and savor every moment, and as always, remember to gro with style!

Kiran Bahl of Gro Styles, "An Indian Boutique," 2035 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612, can be reached at (813) 843-9040 or (813) 903-8334.

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